So you sit down to read a long New York Times profile of Ivanka Trump that ran with this headline -- "Ivanka Trump Has the President’s Ear. Here’s Her Agenda."
The story has lots of room for details and nuance, while probing the ideas and convictions that shape her "Women who work" worldview and the branding image behind her life as a married mom with three children and a lightning rod last name.
Now, I certainly had an agenda when I read this piece. I was curious to know about the contents of this woman's head and how that affected her views -- as a modern Orthodox Jew -- of marriage and family.
So with that in mind, guess the one subject -- out of the following short list -- that is explored (or even mentioned) in this long profile.
(1) Jewish faith and tradition and its role in her home.
(2) The impact of her marriage to Jared Kushner and her life as a wife and mother.
(3) Her beliefs on religious liberty conflicts in America, including those sure to affect Orthodox Jewish believers.
(4) Her relationship with her father and, in particular, his track record when it comes to sensitivity to the feelings and ambitions of women (other than her).
If you guessed answer (4), then you are a winner and have a great future writing profiles of important Americans for the Times.
By the end of this long piece, I was left wondering: Did the total absence of material in this (yes, I know it's about a rich, talented and beautiful daughter of a president) about the marriage, faith and motherhood of this modern Orthodox Jewish women tell is more about Ivanka Trump or the people who cover politics for America's most important newspaper? I also ask this because her alleged actions on issues that are often linked to faith (think religious liberty disputes, again) have already made headlines.
We know the Times team knows all about that because of this February headline: "Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Said to Have Helped Thwart L.G.B.T. Rights Rollback."
You can also see hints about some of these subject in the new profile. Let's walk through it and look for the clues:
In interviews last week, she said she intended to act as a moderating force in an administration swept into office by nationalist sentiment. Other officials added that she had weighed in on topics including climate, deportation, education and refugee policy.
That would be a "moderating" force in a White House that owes its existence, in large part, to her father's unlikely, but bizarrely successful, outreach to old-guard religious and cultural conservatives, especially many evangelical Protestants. In the end, millions of conservative religious people bit their lips and voted for him in order to vote against Hillary Rodham Clinton, a cultural liberal who gave zero indication of compromising on any religious liberty issues (or to appoint people to the U.S. Supreme Court, etc., etc.).
Let's keep reading:
Some former employees express surprise at her new policy interest, saying she was once reluctant to grant them maternity leave. But other observers call her the administration’s best hope for progress on gender issues. ...
Those close to Ms. Trump say she is generally business-friendly and socially liberal. But she says that on many issues, she does not have strongly held views. (In the White House, she uses corporate terms -- like “business plan” -- as much as partisan or political ones.)
Now, I know that the word "modern" is just as important as the word "Orthodox" in the movement known as "modern Orthodox Judaism." Nevertheless, the term "socially liberal" does imply that, at some point Ivanka and her husband have wrestled with the teachings of Orthodox Judaism and found ways to blend those beliefs with the "social" and cultural liberalism that would, for example, be cheered by the Times editorial and, yes, news pages (hello former editor Bill Keller).
Might her religious convictions, or lack thereof, have something to do with -- uh -- her life and work?
It is clear that the Times cares about the POLITICAL issues surrounding abortion. That issue made it into this long report, even if marriage, motherhood and Judaism did not. Read on.
During the campaign, Ms. Trump successfully pushed her father to praise Planned Parenthood from a Republican debate stage, a moment that created a stir at the time because of the party’s broad opposition to the organization’s abortion services. But more recently, with congressional Republicans threatening to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood (even though the women’s health organization says it receives no federal funding for abortions), Ms. Trump approached its president, Cecile Richards, to start a broader dialogue. She also had a proposal: Planned Parenthood should split in two, Ms. Trump suggested, with a smaller arm to provide abortions and a larger one devoted to women’s health services.
White House officials said Ms. Trump was trying to find a common-sense solution amid the roar of abortion politics. But Planned Parenthood officials said they thought Ms. Trump’s advice was naïve, failing to understand how central reproductive choice was to the group’s mission.
That's that. Was Ms. Trump's motive for seeking compromise connected to any intellectual, moral or religious beliefs? Might that indicate a tiny, tiny need to ask questions about marriage, motherhood or modern Orthodox Judaism?
I know, I know. Now I am being naive.
FIRST IMAGE: Family photo released via Instagram.